Although CD recordable blanks are not specifically rated for audio there are several excellent choices for recording audio. Recordable CDs were originally intended for data storage and not specifically for audio formats. The CD recordable data format easily adapted to the CD-Audio format, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Before we delve into the realm of quality audio discs let's review what are not specifically audio discs. Two 'audio' formats, Serial Copy Management System or SCMS, also known as home audio, professional audio or digital audio disc. The other format, called 'audio' is not really a format but a product branding meant for countries that tax music CDs like Canada.
SCMS is a copy protection scheme dreamed up when the DAT format (a digital audio tape format) was coming to the consumer market back in the late 1970's. It has nothing to do with audio and more with a early attempt at Digital Rights Management. As the SCMS was a complete failure in the tape world it was carried on by several consumer stereo manufacturers into the CD recordable market. The big difference was DAT was specifically made for Digital Audio and so SCMS could be used to lock down the technology (and why it failed). CD-Recordable original intention was for data so it did not occur to anyone that the end user might take a data disc and use it for recording audio.:)
Unless you have a very old Denon professional CD recorder or the like you will not need 'Digital Audio' discs nor do they have anything to do with 'best music quality'.
To achieve the 'best music quality' ratings in our eyes several important criteria have to be met:
- Recording error rate
- disc longevity
- disc compatibility
Simply put, a quality recordable CD must have a very low error rate (in playback errors show up as pops and clicks), rated longevity in years (that is published specs: There is a lot of discussion on the best methods of testing, or artificially aging discs). The final important requirement is compatibility between different disc players. Without the big three you just have a cheap CD disc that will not render the best music quality on your CD disc.
The brands we recommend:
- Taiyo Yuden (JVC Professional grade)
- MAM-A (used to be Mitsui). Still focused on the best quality and one of the only archival grade gold CDs on the market. Imitation is the best compliment as MAM-A well knows. Several other manufactures offer 'gold' something but MAM-A uses real 24K gold. This provides for the best protection against corrosion of the reflective layer. MAM-A is also one of the last manufacturers of SCMS media.
- Verbatim has always been the benchmark of quality. unfortunately as the market continues to demand cheap discs and not quality discs (they are not related: you just can't taste the difference ;) but you sure can hear it!) Verbatim's quality has slipped. Now one has to figure out where the discs were made in order to decide if they are usable. To learn more, request our free CD/DVD buyers guide by clicking on the button below.